Looking around this pine forest, you can almost hear the echo of MCC members of the past. The sounds of a pick mattock ringing when it hits a rock, the thumping of countless boots over packed earth, or the shouted warning as someone hefts a rock downhill. You can feel the presence of generations of MCC’ers that have been working on this trail, the Wallman Trail, for over 15 years. This trail is an important connector between two highly used corridors in the Rattlesnake National Recreation Area (RNRA), and this reroute is an effort to make it safer, disperse use, and offer a better user experience. This summer we inch towards finally finishing it for good and opening it to the public.
What started as an old, rocky jeep road near Missoula has blossomed into a longstanding partnership with the USFS and MTB Missoula to improve hiking and mountain biking in the RNRA. This project illustrates our commitment to collaboration, dedication to work that impacts our communities, and the value of our longstanding partnerships.
After the Forest Service and local mountain biking organizations broke ground in 2000, MCC joined the collaboration in 2007 to provide the labor needed to make major progress. Over the years, we’ve kept the vision from stalling by securing funds from Montana FWP, the One Track Mind Foundation, REI, and the Missoula County Resource Advisory Committee. One of our partners, MTB Missoula Trails Director Brian Williams reflected, “In land management, partnerships are essential to getting things done. Having relationships with MCC and the Forest Service, and having the trust there, makes this project possible.”
MCC’s dedicated staff members also lead public volunteer days to crowdsource the hands needed to push this project to the finish line. “MCC provides staff who are familiar with the project and the specs. They add essential capacity for managing big public volunteer events, not only for the Wallman Trail but other local projects like Mount Dean Stone and the House of Sky,” Brian said.
This season, we are working on the final section of the Wallman Trail re-route. Regular volunteers who frequent the RNRA are excited about the project and are looking forward to its opening. “The RNRA is one of the most beloved, close-to-town trail systems. Keeping that system in the best condition we can directly impacts the quality of recreation here, which is a huge reason why people move here,” Brian said. This reroute will also help disperse users throughout the RNRA, which benefits this heavily used recreation area. It also increases safety with better sight lines, reduces the need for maintenance over time, reduces runoff sentiment into Rattlesnake Creek, and drains water more efficiently.
Strong collaborative partnerships, well-made trails that improve access, and a commitment to improving our communities. That’s what we’re about at MCC. What started as echoes of MCC’ers working will soon transform into the elated whoops and hollers of mountain bikers and hikers for generations to come.